GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s special teams haven’t been particularly special the last two seasons, but new special teams coordinator Greg Nord is ready to transform the Gators’ third phase into a staple once again.
“I want to get us back to playing University of Florida special teams,” he said Friday.
“I've coached against this university at several other stops in my career and you used to have to hold your eyes with the cats they had back there deep.
"You used to cringe when you had to protect the guys getting ready to rush the punter. When you were returning a kick, you hoped they kicked it for a touchback because they were going to tackle you on the 10 [yard line]. They had an aura about them of having great special teams. That's what we're going to strive for. That's what we're going to work to try to get.”
After blocking six kicks in 2012 and recording six return touchdowns in Will Muschamp’s first two seasons, the Gators blocked just a single kick the last two years.
They tallied just three total special teams scores over that time period, too.
Special teams were a priority for Muschamp & Co., but dynamic results were few and far between.
Nord, who will also coach tight ends, is enthusiastically embracing the challenge to return the unit to its glory days under Urban Meyer, hopeful he can turnaround the inconsistent production with the athletes on Florida’s roster.
He simply has to get to know his players first.
“Everyone who walks down the hall, I grab them, ‘Hey, what teams are you on?,’’ he explained.
“Frankie [Hammond] was down in the office coming back, he was walking down the hallway. My eyes kind of lit up, ‘Hey, what teams were you on last year?' He said, 'What do you mean, coach?' I said, 'Special teams, which ones did you play?' He said, 'Well, I played them all.' I said 'That's great!' He said, 'Yeah, but I'm with Kansas City [Chiefs] now.' I was like, ‘Dang!’”
Nord said special teams builds continuity and team chemistry, and he’s looking forward to working with Florida’s entire roster and working towards a common goal: winning.
“It's [the one unit] that does help you mesh a team together,” he said.
"You'll have offense guys lined up next to defense guys. … We've got to blend that in, help that become part of the meshing with us, become part of the team, family, and get our explosive guys on the field, and help us win."
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